Sunday, September 21, 2014


I went on a tangent yesterday.

I was enjoying my ethnomusicology assignment so much that it ended up taking me just about all day because I kept going down internet worm holes. I think this must be how friends like Kim and Luther manage to amass so much interesting knowledge. They both take collection of knowledge very seriously without having to have a class or degree or grade motivate the research. I am in awe of this about them, and hope that I'll allow myself the time and energy to be as devoted as they to things that don't have a prescribed motivation other than just interest alone. Some things I wanted to look into more after chaining onto them while researching musician Hayes Carll:

The Atlantic Slave Trade: It hit the United States in 1609, LONG before we were officially a country. This is something I tend to forget, as most of my knowledge around this surrounds the development of blues, folk and jazz music around the mid 1800s and on.

Ethnochoreology: That's a thing! After finding out about biomusicology last week and starting to study music ethnography deeply, I decided to put 'ethno' in front of 'choreology' rather than 'choreography' to see what I got. It's also called 'Dance Ethnography' and 'Dance Anthropology,' but 'Ethnochoreology' seems to me a more fitting word. It's 'academic thought on why people dance and what it means.

I also discovered that 'Rovi' is a business whose services include a digital music component that hires experts to develop and write content for various clients (including Spotify), that Vevo music video service is jointly run by UMG, Google, Sony and Abu Dhabi media (creepy), that there is an Americana webzine called No Depression (I hope I remember to go back and read it as this is a fascinating subculture), and found a video for Hayes Carll and Corb Lund's "Bible On the Dash" (AWESOME), among other random things.

This Saturday journey was a much more fascinating way to spend time than a movie or TV show often is; I hope I keep doing this!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

This Song

This song had a serious affect on me last week. I've been listing to this album almost exclusively for a couple weeks, and I one time through this song, things just clicked. Sometimes, songs about wandering the world make me feel unfulfilled even when they are meant to do the opposite; there I sit, listening to the singer tell me about seeing the world, which can be pretty uninspiring when you do not have the money to do such a thing.

Or is it just money? I got thinking about the other barriers that I have to such a thing. I do have work that I care for and goals within it. I have friends and family. The first item is the biggest barrier in relation to this idea. My work compensates me at a level that is lower than many other professions may have, but it keeps me happy and inspired on a nearly daily basis. When put in that context, this song opened up for me;

"I've been all around the world trying to find my mind, but every time I try, I say my my my I don't know nothing, but there's nothing that I can't learn . . ."

I've been all around MY world. My world is composed of all the things, consciously or subconsciously, that I've decided I need the most; creating, dancing, building community in a locality, teaching, friendships, love. Realizing this at the forefront of my mind (as I believe I've know this to be true and to let it help operate me on a subconscious level) was freeing. It gave me comfort that I am wandering the world and learning and answering questions on a daily basis. I experienced a huge burst of gratitude for my life and the choices I've made within it after working through these ideas in my mind, and now I attach that feeling to this song. It comes through almost every time I listen to it now.

On an additional personal note, this burst of gratitude was followed by what I am tempted to call a mini-adventure to Wisconsin and Chicago, but I'll revise and say it was an adventure; it was an adventure on the scale that my world (which I have built) would allow. Our adventure was filled with people we love, changes and newnesses in scenery, music, food. It was a great shot of energy and difference into my current life. That freshness, adventure and wander can come in in many ways if you let it. If you do, there's nothing that you can't learn.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Paonia #3 . . . and done.

Friday is here.

Time to leave this Colorado mirage. Before we go, a couple more photos;

Bailey taking photos outside the theater.

Our sweet theater space. It is used for classes, workshops, and performances. It needed a little doctoring to be ready for some big, physical dance, but we made it happen. Thanks to Sonya for being ladder monkey and helping three stage lights (yes, three, in addition to the overhead light on the stage) make our show look great!

We ended up using the (small) stage space, as well as the floor. It worked pretty great!

There is the stage. A pretty nice size for a solo musician!

And the fucking trippy bar we went to after the show! It was called Linda's 3rd Street Bistro. Linda was a character. She was playing outlaw country music, wearing a cowboy hat, and apparently opens whenever she feels like it. There were more random nicknacks than I've ever seen, and a 'back room' that you have to ask to go see. It's full of lingerie!


It certainly has been a trip. One more set of classes this morning at Paonia Elementary, and we are on the road back to Boulder. I'll be sad to say goodbye, but am ready to make my pit-spot in Boulder before arrive home to the beautiful Twin Cities for the summer!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Paonia 2

More photos!

Another of beautiful downtown. Notice the mountain ranges!

Inside view of the adorable house we have rented for the week . . .

Kitchen, complete with Mandy and Sonya dancers.

View out to the porch.

Living room.

Another kitchen view. Lovely appliances!

Bathroom with claw foot tub.

Even the stairs are pretty.

Little porch the second level. I received a burn on this porch yesterday, and (especially after being stuck in a snowstorm) I loved it.

The upstairs.

A really lovely place to stay!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dancing in Paonia, CO

Paonia, CO.

A tiny mountain town on the Western slope in Colorado. I thought I had found real-life Everwood. Turns out, this town is even smaller! But what it does have that Everwood did not appear to: Kombucha in the grocery store, several farm-to-table restaurants, townsfolk with dreads, tango classes, a locally volunteer-run public radio station, an independent newspaper, and arts center, an artists retreat and countless other hippy-hipster-appreciating-art kind of things. I was pretty surprised!

You know what else it has? 4H club signs, four old dudes bullshitting in the gas station lobby (that's right, I said 'the'), several churches and several bars and an American Legion. The local-artsy-enviroconscious meets super tight-knit local small town vibe is really incredible. I definitely think that later in life, if I had done the other things, I could easily enjoy the laid back vibe of a town like this, teaching and promoting dance. For now, I am just appreciating my chance to interact and enjoy for a week! Some visuals;

Stuck in Georgetown on the way out Sunday. Not so bad!

Adorable downtown Georgetown . . .

Where we found an amazing candy shop that made everything themselves from scratch. They even had sugar free! We also found a Christmas shop. Apparently, this town has a legendary Christmas market the first two weekends of December each year.

The sweet house in Paonia that we have rented for the week. Farmhouse inside with every detail attended to (the owner must spend all her days on Pintrest).

Yep, 4H Club sponsored recycling.

The kombucha in the grocery store :)

A mountain view that cannot be done justice with an iPhone . . .

A collaborative work space. Yes, in this tiny town.

The lovely and active Main Street.

And another.

Mosaic at the artists retreat . . . damn hippies :)

Saddle shop.

Liquor store . . . complete with drive-thru.

The artists retreat. It's called 'Elsewhere.'

Community announcements in every window. We added posters for our Thursday show at the Blue Sage Arts Center, which is also on Main Street.

We've also been bopping out to the nearby town of Hotchkiss to teach in the afternoons, which is also pretty great. There are farms and fruit orchards and wineries everywhere. I can see that this is a special place to live! I have enjoyed my little conversations with locals, from the young fella who had just done his first day as the manager of the radio station, to the 90 year old WWII vet who had better posture than me pushing his cart around the (singular) grocery store. 

These little encounters sort of make me wish I could live in a place like this. Maybe some day. Maybe not. Again: for now, I'll settle for a lovely little week sharing the gift of dance. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Grateful for Goodness

It's all over. Personal growth. Good conversations. Silly times. History and renewal all packed into the same packages. Open them up and eat!

I had such a great little trip to Milwaukee. I am grateful for great friends, good conversation, tasty gluten-free beer, funny tour guides, kitschy breweries, aged cheese, my tummy putting up with abuse, long drives, detours for non-existent Bloody Mary Holy Grails and opportunities to share this information with people thinking that they might care (and it not really mattering whether they do or not :)).

I'm even grateful to have to leave all this to go back to school tomorrow. I have not yet been able to get my brain around that (and I haven't really tried). I've been fortunate to have a longer break than normal, and will get to change my routine as soon as I get back to it by going to ACDFA next week, yet I still get these feelings. Hard to leave. I know I'll be grateful to be back to it when I am. For now, I suppose I'll just enjoy what I'm doing in the moment. Constantly striving for that :)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Some Things I Learned This Week

It was a tough one. I've been classifying it as such. Now, I sit here, hoping that accounting for some of what I learned may free my brain space enough to allow it to focus on the work that needs doing after having given myself some time off.

No re-hash, just lessons learned. A wise colleague told me that appreciation isn't always verbal. Sometimes, when you think your leadership actions are going unnoticed or unappreciated, there is someone (or many) in the background taking it in, appreciating it and learning from it. Just because someone does not verbal express their gratitude doesn't mean it isn't there. It's still there, and that verbal expression may come when you least expect it!

I feel like this is also helping me bear in mind when you are focusing on the bad rather than the good. During this difficult week, I had many people who noticed something was off ask how I was, many people asking about my finger, reminding me that I am great at my job even when I wasn't necessarily expressing that I felt differently. People DO notice and care when I am off, and even when I am ON, and they tell me then too. I am committing myself to keeping these things in my awareness all the time, not just when I am down. Beyond that, I had my family buoying me with listening, advice, conversation, compliments, perspective and coffee cards :)

Another thing I learned this week (or was at least reminded of) is the idea that sometimes, the energy or attitude you receive from someone else has nothing to do with you. This actually really does make this feel less difficult sometimes. I even find it easier sometimes to think 'Why give myself the credit of affecting someone else that much?!' I'm not that important. I just often feel so empathetic (even though I feel people don't often know that) that I want to make something my problem even when its not, if there is any way I can help make it better.

Sometimes, self-care, preservation and protection ARE more important than trying to make everyone else's issues your problem (especially if it is unwelcome or unappreciated). I appreciate that I've been driven a couple times in these last couple of weeks to unabashedly put myself first. This is hard for me, because I often feel that people don't know how much I DON'T put me first. That said, this fear has driven me to the point of crazy a couple times recently, which I think have ended up being good lessons for me in how to decipher when my priority must be me.

I feel that I have also been navigating the age-old difficulty of having to choose your battles. I've been trying to determine that in accordance with how much of the difficulty is based on my own (perhaps mis)conceptions and how much of it is a clear-cut issue in which I need to defend myself. Additionally, these choices are made difficult by the blur I am continuously experiencing between friendship and professional relationships. Our working environment at school (i.e. tiny shared office) has made it really difficult to simply reroute the problem by creating new working patterns or places. With most of such recent issues, I've opted to turn my sights toward the upcoming break from this routine that is creating many of these issues. That said, I've also opted to take a couple of them head-on, and they've provided great results because I've approached with honesty and my heart in the right place of trying to better the situation for both/ all parties.

In this rough week, I've also been delivered some reminders about perspective. I intend to lift my heart to my friends who I can confidently say are in more challenging places, and to take these reminders to heart to keep perspective, simultaneously respecting my own feelings while allowing them to fade to a less radiant hue when necessary.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sharing Dance in Upstate NY

I feel really fortunate to be doing what I am doing this week. This week, I am on tour to upstate New York with Gesel Mason Performance Projects, performing and teaching at SUNY-Potsdam and SUNY-Albany. It has been fascinating to see how these engagements are put together and how they work, and such a joy to teach new students.

When we pulled into Potsdam on Saturday, I was doubtful; the town is tiny. That said, my opinions changed quickly as we met the students and faculty and saw the campus. I of course let me curiosity lead me as much as time would allow, exploring the tiny downtown and it's gems. They've got a neat little co-op (and it looks like a lot of people with hippy ideals to go with it), an Elks lodge, an ACE Hardware and lots of local restaurants. I have not seen a single fast food place. There is a Walmart, but apparently it is out on the edge of town.

The faculty have been very gracious, welcoming us into their homes and making sure we get to and from where we need to be, even though most of those distances are walkable. I enjoyed the walk to campus yesterday, and can envision how this can work for people. I suppose it is easy to say that when you've only been somewhere half a week. The airport IS four hours away THROUGH a forested mountain park (Adirondack State Park). Regardless, it is a neat community.

My host, the chair of the Theater and Dance Department at Potsdam, was telling me that the area has a history of holding a teacher's college, which is part of what attracted so many educational institutions to the area. There are now three colleges in the 17,000 person town. I was not expecting campus to be very diverse, but it absolutely is. Apparently Potsdam has a pretty effective recruitment system in NYC.

The old, institutional buildings were the norm, though they are currently in the process of finishing up a brand new Performing Arts Center. Apparently, the building project has been a sight of some tension on campus, with a lot of folks wondering why the newest building is going to the arts. My guess is that careful research and development campaigns backed the choice :)

Being 20 miles from the Canadian border, some folks joke that this is 'SUNY-Canada.' This is pretty good evidence;

Definitely exciting :)  To include some more images of the trip, a captures of the street where my home stay is located (third house down) and some pictures of my room in my humble New England guest abode;  

The Co-Op

The Elks's Lodge

Potsdam Campus

I look forward to seeing what the second leg of the trip will include! 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Years Resolution/s 2014

Continually seeking matter . . .
                        Gratitude . . .

There it is/ there they are. At the risk of sounding like a mass-manufactured coffee cup, the above words and their order feel very important to me. They were arrived to after several hours and many pages of of writing and reflection. I scaled resolutions that go all the way back to 2007 (though I started this elaborate New Years Resolution tradition in either late high school or early college), evaluated my success in these ideas, pondered a whole year's worth of journal entries through the lens of last years resolutions, considered my hopes for this next year and beyond, and used all of this information to formulate the above ideas.

Within my process, I wrote out and reasoned through why the above concepts feel so pertinent and important to me right now. For so many, the process of creating New Years Resolutions is about deciding to take action. I am very good at taking action. I jump in without hesitation, I am quite efficient, and rarely ever procrastinate or lack motivation. Rather, my reflections affirmed that I wish and need to focus my efforts upon how I take action.

When I chose to take action, I wish to first dedicate myself to being present as it unfolds and throughout the process. I am practiced in prematurely looking toward the next step, and I feel it would be greatly beneficial to focus on experiencing the present in conjunction with planning ahead. Next, I am asking myself to listen more carefully to myself and the other people, the environment and the energy along the way. I have a tendency to skip this step in favor of efficiency, which can be ill-perceived and derailed easily when time, space and energy to make apt adjustments is not prioritized.

As present and listening unfold, I wish to trust myself. I am a confident person with a track record of making excellent decisions, yet doubt, fear and guilt easily work their way into my thought processes. While questioning ones choices develops self-reflexivity and engagement, doing so constantly can erode the trust a well-adjusted person should encourage within themselves.  I wish to encourage that within myself.

Finally, there is gratitude. While I do experience powerful waves of gratitude a couple times a month, I'd like to make gratitude a conscious and continuous frame of mind. I had pondered the word 'satisfaction,' but it felt connected to complacency, which is a frame of mind I do not desire. Gratitude feels like the conscious practice of appreciating what has come to pass and the present moment as a way to take in information to help build an even better future. I wish for that.

Considering all this, the above mantra with a little more contextualization: 'Continually seeking matter' is my way of implying action. It is the practice of always looking for information, relationships, connectivity, kinesthesia, anything that affirms and progresses life. Within this directive, I wish to be present, to listen to myself, others, the environment, and the energy, to trust myself, and to be grateful for the origins, means, and ends of my actions.

Continually seeking matter . . .
                           Gratitude . . .

To close my reflection, Happy New Year to all, and wishes of fullness and gratitude!